Countee Cullen was a black writer and translator who won more major literary prizes than any other black writer of the 1920’s. Cullen began winning poetry contests as a teenager. His first three poems in the 1920’s were: Color, Copper Sun, and The Ballad of the Brown Girl. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from New York University. Cullen later became the second black poet to win a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Little is known about his childhood, but he claimed to be born in New York in 1903 and was unofficially adopted as a child. Until 1918, he was known as Countee Porter. He had a difficult relationship with his father, the Reverend Frederick A. Cullen. Frederick Cullen was a devout Methodist pastor who had been raised in poverty. As a child, he wore girls’ clothing at the urging of his mother. His inner-conflict about his own sexuality was said to have deeply affected his relationship with Countee.
Despite a struggling patriarchal relationship, Cullen’s work spoke to literary buffs as a mirror of great poets such as John Keats and Percy Shelley. Though he was associated with the New Negro movement and the Harlem Renaissance, Cullen failed to embrace the literary style of most black poets in the era. However, his work continuously reflected racial themes with political points and black satire. Cullen, who had been raised in predominately white surroundings, was even ridiculed by some who believed that he failed to present a true black perspective in his work.
Cullen received first prize in the Witter Bynner Poetry contest in 1925, Poetry magazine's John Reed Memorial Prize, the Amy Spingarn Award of the Crisis magazine, second prize in Opportunity magazine's first poetry contest, and second prize in the poetry contest of Palms. His list of accolades and prizes were extensive.
In 1928, Cullen married Yolande Du Bois, the only daughter to W.E.B. Dubois. Their marriage was a production and made a symbol of unity among the intellects. Unfortunately, it only lasted two years and their divorce caused a major upset. Cullen’s future works were said to be lackluster in quality and may have been a result of the intense separation.
Cullen worked as a French teacher at Frederick Douglass Junior High. He would write a novel, One Way to Heaven, in 1934. Cullen wrote children’s literature and was working on a musical called “St. Louis Women” at the time of his death.
Countee Cullen died from high blood pressure and uremic poisoning on January 9, 1946.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
1 of 25
2 of 25
3 of 25
4 of 25
5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
5 of 25
6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
6 of 25
7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
7 of 25
8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
8 of 25
9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
9 of 25
10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
10 of 25
11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
11 of 25
12. Late nights mornings
12 of 25
13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
13 of 25
14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
14 of 25
15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
15 of 25
16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
16 of 25
17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
17 of 25
18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
18 of 25
19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
19 of 25
20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
20 of 25
21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
21 of 25
22. Claudia Jordan: ....
22 of 25
23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
23 of 25
24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
24 of 25
25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
25 of 25